Metro is rolling out a new campaign aimed at curbing a dangerous crime: buses are being pelted with rocks. City leaders even considered cutting nighttime service along troubled routes.
Metro decided to try and address the problem instead of reducing service. Transit and D.C. Police are handing out thousands of fliers so people know the consequences of their actions. Throwing a rock at a bus could land you 10 years behind bars if someone gets seriously hurt.
It didn’t take long to find a Metrobus rider who was the victim of a rock attack.
“Somebody threw a cinder block,” says William Sutcliffe. “Grey concrete 15 pounds into the front bus window and shattered the front window.”
Sutcliffe says no one was hurt when that happened last June, but others fear next time they may not be so lucky.
“It could be a safety hazard for the bus driver, also the passengers on the bus. I am a passenger and I don’t want to get hit by a rock,” says Denise Davis.
“The issue should be stopped,” says Fenton Chester. “If they can stop it and if they can’t stop it then make everybody aware of it.”
Deputy Chief Jeff Delinski is doing just that. He’s part of a Metro Transit and D.C. Police team posting the fliers at public schools and recreation centers. Several thousand more are also being handed out.
“It’s also not fun and games. It’s very dangerous,” says Delinski. “People can get hurt and not only that there’s a criminal penalty associated with rock throwing.”
The penalties range from a $500 fine to 10 years in prison.
Last month D.C. councilmembers addressed the growing concerns at a community meeting in Southeast. The biggest feedback: make sure the public knows the consequences.
“I think it’s a good idea because it sets awareness,” says Reanna Robinson. “People do stupid things for no reason. A lot of people think you’ll get away with it.”
Metro Transit Police say they’re going to continue meeting with bus operators and attending bus safety meetings. They get a lot of good ideas from meetings on how to better protect everyone.